3 reasons why Roku is the go-to streamer for vacation rental owners

Make Roku the streaming standard if you own a vacation rental.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As host of a Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeStay, or any other rental property, you’re probably busy making decisions about furnishings, amenities, and reservation times. But welcoming guests into your home isn’t just about providing soft bedding and towels, it’s also about entertaining. Because not all guests spend their holidays sightseeing, it’s up to you to provide TV access. And if you don’t pay for cable, streaming television is the best bet.

So, which streaming platform to choose? Don’t be tempted to put your dear AppleTV box in this comfortable cottage by the sea. Chromecast with Google TV Where Amazon FireTV are also options, but Roku is our top pick for people with vacation rentals thanks to its affordability, ease of use, and one-of-a-kind guest mode.

1. Roku devices are inexpensive

First, Roku smart TVs and streaming devices offer great value – a small Roku TV costs less than $200. If you want to splurge and create a more luxurious experience for your guests, buy a larger Roku TV model. Our favorite is TCLbut Roku smart TV models are also available from other brands.

Roku has plenty of streaming devices that work with any TV, but our pick is the Roku Express 4K Plus. It costs between $30 and $40 and has pretty much everything you need in a streamer. It’s the cheapest Roku with a remote that can also control any TV, meaning your guests don’t have to juggle clickers.

The most basic streaming device is the Roku Express, available for $25. Although it lacks 4K and the voice control capability of its siblings, it’s easy to set up with an HDMI cable. The downside is that there’s no TV control on the remote, so we think upgrading to the Express 4K Plus is worth it for your guests.

The $30 Roku Pro Voice Remote also worth considering. It can be added to any Streamer or Roku TV and offers a few user-friendly extras, the coolest being the rangefinder. If the the remote is lost – a potential scenario when there is a constant stream of guests coming in and out – you can pinpoint his location by simply calling him. The Pro Remote also features a headphone jack, so guests can watch their favorite shows or movies without disturbing others.


Roku TV and its handy voice remote.

Sarah Tew/CNET

2. Roku’s system is the easiest to use

Although Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast are also reasonably priced, Roku beat them for simplicity. Roku devices run smoothly and are a snap to set up, but the best part is the user-friendly and intuitive interface on the main screen. Guests of all ages can easily access the apps by clicking the icons to Hulu, SpotifyHBO Max, Apple TV Plus or Disney+.

Roku’s simple grid of apps trumps the rest. Compared to Amazon’s clumsy (and slightly infuriating) search process for Prime Video content, it’s easy to find titles or genres on a Roku. And Chromecast with Google TV has a home menu that focuses on content rather than the streaming apps themselves, so it can get cluttered with shows and movies your guests might not find relevant. .

3. Roku Guest Mode is a host’s best friend

Hosts who don’t want to share their login credentials with visitors can enable “guest mode” (formerly known as auto-disconnect mode) on any Roku TV or streaming player. This feature allows guests to sign into their own subscriptions for services like Netflix, Sling, or Hulu. Guest Mode can be enabled for any Roku-bound device in any room of your rental property. Airbnb hosts on Reddit give it the thumbs up over competitors.

To set up this feature, you must first add a PIN to your Roku account and then launch it directly on the device or remotely. Since the PIN is associated with your personal account, guests will not be able to access your profile to watch content or make purchases.

guest mode

Screenshot of Roku guest mode.

Kourtnee Jackson/CBS

Once guests click on guest mode, they’ll be prompted to enter a signing date, which means Roku will automatically log them out of the account when they leave. They also have the option of manually signing out at any time before their departure date. In either case, their login credentials will be removed from the system.

The home screen has default channels such as Netflix and Prime Video, but guests can add channels or stream from their personal Roku library. If they forget to log out at the end of their stay, you can do it for them.

Google Chromecast devices offer a guest mode, but it’s not as robust as Roku’s – it’s primarily designed to make it easier for people to cast from their phone to the TV. Fire TV devices require an Amazon account to work, although you can set up a PIN to prevent purchases.

Since Roku devices are inexpensive, it might not hurt as much if your guest decides to snatch it up as they leave. At least you can disable access from anywhere in the world.

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